From diet and exercise to treatment and management, living with diabetes is a reality for many San Benito County residents. According to the USDA Food Environment Atlas, San Benito County’s adult diabetes rate was at 6.6% in 2009 and the adult obesity rate measured 22.9%.
For those who practice good diet and exercise routines to control (or prevent) diabetes, the availability and convenience of smart, healthy foods is essential. The “convenience factor” is more important than you might think, considering the conditioning we have received in today’s culture. After all, if it’s not fast, if it’s not easy and if it’s not tasty, we are likely to go eat something that is unhealthy but that meets that cultural criteria. Steps can be taken, however, to make healthy eating more convenient and to blend it into our daily lives. Keeping your pantry, your refrigerator and your snack cabinet stocked with the right foods is the biggest step you can take.
For people with diabetes, the pantry should be stocked with foods that are high in fiber and protein to help keep blood sugar levels in check,” says Christine Hurley, RD, CDE, LDN, a certified diabetes educator and licensed dietitian nutritionist with the Main Line Health System.
Let’s take a look at eight low-carb fruits you can choose to help keep your diet on track:
1. Berries for Antioxidants
Whether you love blueberries, strawberries, or any other type of berries, you have the go-ahead to indulge. According to the ADA, berries are a diabetes superfood because they’re packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber and are low-carb. Three quarters of a cup of fresh blueberries have 62 calories and 16 grams of carbohydrates. If you can resist the urge to just pop them in your mouth, try berries in a parfait, alternating layers of fruit with plain non-fat yogurt — it makes a great dessert or breakfast.
2. Tart Cherries to Fight Inflammation
Cherries are a low-carb, low-GI choice and can safely be included in your diabetic diet. Twelve sweet cherries have 59 calories and 14 grams of carbohydrates, but tart cherries might be an especially good choice. A recent study found that tart cherries contain more anti-inflammatory agents than any other fruit. Tart cherries also are packed with antioxidants, which may fight heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Cherries can be purchased fresh, canned, frozen, or dried. But since many canned and dried fruits contain added sugar, be sure to check the labels.
3. Peaches for Potassium
Fragrant, juicy peaches are a warm-weather treat and can be included in your low-carb diabetic diet. Peaches contain vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. Peaches are delicious on their own or tossed into iced tea for a fruity twist. When you want a snack, whip up a quick smoothie by pureeing peach slices with low-fat buttermilk, crushed ice, and a touch of cinnamon or ginger.
4. Apricots for Fiber
Sweet, low-carb apricots are a summer fruit staple and a wonderful addition to your diabetes meal plan. One apricot has just 17 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates. Four fresh apricots equal one serving and provide more than 70 percent of your daily vitamin A requirement. These fruity jewels are also a good source of fiber. Try mixing some diced apricots into hot or cold cereal or toss some in a salad.
5. Apples for Vitamins
An apple a day really might keep the doctor away. Toss one in your purse or tote bag if you’re on the go — a small apple is a great fruit choice, with just 54 calories and 14 carb grams. Apples are also loaded with fiber and a good source of vitamin C. Don’t peel your apples, though — the skins are full of antioxidants.
6. Oranges for Vitamin C
Eat one orange and you’ve gotten all the vitamin C you need in a day. This low-carb, low GI choice comes in at only 15 grams of carbohydrates and 62 calories. Oranges also contain folate and potassium, which can help normalize blood pressure. And while you’re enjoying this juicy treat, don’t forget that other citrus fruits, like grapefruit, are also great choices.
7. Pears for Potassium and Fiber
Pears are a low-carb fruit and a wise addition to your diabetes meal plan. They are a good source of potassium and fiber. Unlike most fruit, they actually improve in texture and flavor after they’re picked. Store pears at room temperature until they’re ripe and perfect for eating (they can then be stored in the refrigerator). Here’s a taste treat: Slice up a pear and toss it into your next spinach salad.
8. Low-Carb Kiwi
If you’ve never tried a low-carb kiwi, you might not know that its brown fuzzy peel hides a zesty bright green fruit. Delicious kiwi is a good source of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C. One large kiwi has about 56 calories and 13 grams of carbohydrates, so it’s a smart addition to your diabetic diet. Kiwis are available year-round and will last in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
These favorites are low-carb, low-GI, and good for your diabetes diet plan.
Can you think of any quick and easy local sources for any of the eight listed fruits? How about the fruit stands that dot Highway 25 coming into town, or Bertuccio’s Produce stand at Airline Highway and Union Road or the produce section at your favorite grocery store? Are there other places around the county that you like to frequent? We’d love to hear about them in your comments to this post!
Community Food Bank’s mission is to provide food, nutritional education and advocacy for our neighbors in need within San Benito County.